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March 16, 2023

Tobin Anderson

Sean Moore

Ansley Almonor

Demetre Roberts

Grant Singleton

Columbus, Ohio, USA

Nationwide Arena

FDU Knights

Media Conference

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Fairleigh Dickinson.

Q. Sean, how excited are you to be playing in the tournament in your hometown?

SEAN MOORE: Super exciting because I haven't played at home since, like, high school. That's, like, four, four and a half years ago. So I'm happy to be in the tournament.

This is big-time, first time being in the tournament. So I'm living in the moment right now. I'm going to have a lot of people come out tomorrow night. I'm happy. I'm excited.

Q. How much do you guys think about -- or obviously you saw what Saint Peter's did last year, the run they made as a 15 seed. And they happened to beat Purdue along the way to get to the Elite Eight. How much do you look at that, that they've showed that that's possible to do for a team of your size, so to speak?

GRANT SINGLETON: We just take it one game at a time. Obviously we've seen what Saint Peter's did last year. We played them earlier in the year. We've seen what type of team they are. They're not too much different from us.

We feel like we can compete. After we played a game yesterday, we feel a lot more comfortable playing on a stage like this, so we feel we can compete at a highest stage.

DEMETRE ROBERTS: Just to touch on what Grant said, we played them earlier in the season. We have seen their play style. Nothing too different between the two teams. Made a big run last year. We think we can do the same. But the only thing we can do is take care of what we've got going on and take it day by day.

Q. Ansley and Sean, does it feel good to get a win under your belt, to have that momentum coming in here?

ANSLEY ALMONOR: Definitely playing a game, because they haven't played a game in a little while. I feel coming into the tournament, coming in with a win helps with our momentum a little bit. We're loose, we're used to the crowd, stuff like that. It's definitely to our advantage.

SEAN MOORE: To pick up on what he said, being comfortable playing on a big stage in front of a lot of people, just getting the jitters out from yesterday's game. We've got momentum going into this game, we know what to expect, get used to it, get the feel for it. I feel like we should be good tomorrow.

Q. Videos circulating on social media after the win saying that you guys can easily beat Purdue the more times that you've watched them. So can you guys kind of comment on that video a little bit?

DEMETRE ROBERTS: No comment. To be honest, they flipped Coach's words a little bit. Obviously we need confidence. Like I said, we just worry about ourselves. Obviously we know Purdue is a big team, and we can only worry about ourselves now.

Q. Game plan going against big man Zach Edey?


Q. The poise, the confidence, the assertiveness, the execution that you showed in that first-round victory, that just doesn't come off a supermarket shelf. For each one you, where does that come from? Is it from the inside? Is it from the coach's lead? Is it from something you guys were brought up from your younger days? I'd like to know because if you can bottle that, it's going to take you a long way.

SEAN MOORE: It's something that we picked up with since we stepped on campus this summer, just building the new culture, what the coaches are bringing, as the players are bringing, new players, returning players -- it's something we built.

We showed it throughout the season at certain games like Loyola-Chicago, Saint Joseph's, NJIT, a lot of big-time games that we showed that we can play together when we play together. When we play together we're unstoppable on the court and it showed last night.

ANSLEY ALMONOR: It starts with the Coach's confidence in us. He lets us go out there, make plays. Believes in us. When you have a coach that has your back, you go do what you can do and it makes it easier to go out there and perform.

DEMETRE ROBERTS: In my opinion, when you push each other in practice, it makes it easier when you play games. We practice hard, so it makes it easier for us to contribute and play well on the court. And it shows.

GRANT SINGLETON: Just picking up what these guys said, just having fun, really. Like he said, we compete every day in practice. We probably have the hardest practices of any team in the country.

So when we play the games, it's just having fun. We have confidence in each other to make plays. Coach has confidence in us. It's really fun at that point.

COACH ANDERSON: Happy to be here today. That was a great night last night for us, great win. It was nice, a short bus ride from Dayton over to here, only took us an hour, an hour and a half, good trip there.

Our guys are excited. We won last night. Played very well. Watched the tape. Then we started watching the tape, obviously, on Purdue.

We're happy to be here. Looking forward to a great day and ready for tomorrow night.

Q. Can you describe the chemistry between Demetre and Grant, and just kind of what makes them click, the best words you can put it into?

COACH ANDERSON: They've been roommates for, this is their fifth year, been roommates together. They came in together, recruited together.

When I recruited them, I thought Grant would be more of a point guard and Demetre more of a backup role player. And Demetre ended up being really good his freshman year.

Grant didn't play a lot his freshman year, so he had to sit behind guys. He was actually a backup to Kam Murrell. Kam is my assistant coach now. So Grant backed him up for a year.

Grant had to go through the year and not play as much. And once they got going together, they really complemented each other so well.

And I'm not sure how much they talked to each other. I can see them sitting in a room together for four hours and not saying much to each other. It's almost like they just kind of know -- they'll glance at each other or nod at each other or just kind of, like, go fist pound each other and just say, hey, it's time to get it going.

Demetre is kind of our leader. Grant kind of follows him sometimes. When Demetre gets going that gets Grant going too. There's a problem sometimes when Demetre is not playing well, we need Grant to crank it up. And he's not the same as Demetre is that way.

But they're really good together. Roommates for five years. Demetre has scored 2,000 points. Grant has scored 1,500 college points. That's 3,500 combined college points in all the games they played together.

How many back courts have that experience? How many back courts at that college level have that experience game-wise, successful game-wise? And we said last night their postseason record is something like 13-5 or 14-5.

So they have played in big games, important games. And knock on wood, they've always played well in big games. I've never seen them -- now, they may not always shoot well but they'll find ways to help us win.

So they're a special, special back court. And it will be sad -- the day it's over -- they've been part of the family, over to our house numerous times. They're close with my kids and my wife and they're just wonderful guys.

When you spend five years together, that's a long time. And we've enjoyed every minute of it. When it's all said and done that will be the sad part that we have to move on and you can't coach those guys again.

I'm excited today. We get a chance to practice again. Get to practice again. They're the most coachable guys as far as they listen and they pick up things. They're so easy to coach. They're locked in on film. When you have guys like that, that's pretty special.

Q. You made the comment leading up to this about the transition from Division II and Division I while being able to focus your energies to coaching. Is there anywhere specific where that's paid off for you the most during the course of the season?

COACH ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, we laugh because last year my staff and I were driving vans to games. We beat St. John's in an exhibition game my third year at STAQ and we drove vans to St. John's, beat St. John's by 32 points, and drove the vans to people -- that's the last time I got a lot of media coverage was then.

And they said, how was the bus ride back to STAQ. I said we didn't take a bus. We took vans. People didn't understand that.

So now it's like my coach is not going to worry about driving vans. I never had an assistant coach in Division I or Division II who just did basketball. My assistant coach, Matt Capell, who is the head coach at STAQ now. I took some of his best players. I took some of his best players -- Demetre Grant and Sean and Jo'el Emanuel. I took four probably starters and they went 26-4 with the NCAA Tournament for the eighth straight time.

And he's also the tennis coach there. He's my assistant coach, also the tennis coach. Now he couldn't beat me in tennis and I'm not very good at tennis. He coached tennis. He coached -- he was community service director. He did all kinds of other jobs.

Tom Bomacum, my assistant now, was the E-sports coach. He can't turn on a computer. That's not true. But he doesn't play video games.

So I never had a coach -- so those guys get focused. When they can focus on basketball, that gives them a chance to do more things, takes more off my plate, where I can focus more on basketball. And we're just coaching a team, recruiting, doing all that stuff.

I think the biggest thing is spending more time with your players. That's one thing I love about this level, Division I. We had the summertime, the summertime is huge for us. We're a whole new team, we're all brand-new.

On July 5th when we got together that's the first time our guys on our team had met each other. It wasn't like, nice to meet you, I'm Demetre, I'm Ansley. They didn't know each other.

So we spent six weeks together getting a chance -- without the pressure of games, without the pressure of all the crazy stuff that happens during the season to actually spend time, meals and watching stuff on TV and hanging out together and coming over to my house and doing things like that, that gave us a chance to blend together.

So just the access to your players, spent more time with your guys, I have a chance now to spend more time with the guys.

Last couple of days all this media stuff, I've done more media stuff. Now I've got a great SID over there, I'm interview every 30 seconds right now. I love it, but that's a lot of stuff, too. But it's great. It's great.

Q. The confidence your team has built over the course of the season, talk about that process from October to now and watching this team gel as they have.

COACH ANDERSON: It's very interesting, right? We were just talking about this last night. We went to Hartford, played Hartford, our ninth game of the season. And Hartford is going to Division III. All respect to them, probably one of the worst Division I teams in the country. We lost and did not play well.

Then we beat St. Joe's at St. Joe's, an A10 school, pretty good school by 18 points on the road. And I don't know where that comes from sometimes. I think it's just a toughness, inner toughness, competitive fire that they have. And once we start winning some games, belief in each other, belief in what we do.

You can tell these guys are really on board. They really believe in what we're doing and it helps that we had success, obviously. But I think we also give them a lot of confidence. I want my guys to play with confidence. I want our players to have confidence.

When I played I didn't want to be looking over at the bench or calls play all the time or worry about coming out. So we give them confidence to play and let them play. And if they make mistakes -- mistakes are part of the game. We love to make mistakes and play through mistakes.

Q. In the euphoria of the win last night, there was a video of you in the locker room with the guys talking about I think you referenced Cam actually watching film, advance film maybe of Purdue saying the more he looks at them the more he believes you guys can beat them. Is that something you wanted out there that video? I think you may have even said I want Purdue to hear this or did you say I don't want -- I couldn't --

COACH ANDERSON: I didn't see the video. Can you send me a text. Of course I saw the video. Yes, I saw the video.

Two parts to that. One is like, yeah, I probably didn't want that out. But I don't think that makes a difference. I want our guys to believe. Part of having success is like we've got to believe we have a chance to win.

And I walked into the room the other day and Kam Murrell is sitting there watching 15,000 Purdue tapes and we've seen those guys on tape. Listen, there's no disrespect for Purdue. We know Purdue is one of the best teams in the country. They're fantastic. You watch them on TV, you're like you could never beat a team like that, there's no way.

That's my thought process. And you're so focused on the first game at hand, Texas Southern. We're not even worried about Purdue. I walked into Kam, the more I watch these guys, there's a chance to beat these guys.

He didn't say we're going to beat these guys. There's a chance to beat these guys. We could beat these guys. And you've got to have that belief. And I think that is kind of how we think.

We believe we've got a chance to win. You have to believe that. And we do. We do. We think we have a chance to win. We have to play extremely well and hope they don't play maybe as well. But that's part of life. So we'll bring our best shot tomorrow and we'll play as well as we can.

No, I don't think Purdue needs any extra motivation from the standpoint, that they lost last year to Saint Peter's in the NCAA Tournament. They're trying to win a national championship. I don't think they need any extra motivation. But I probably gave them a little bit right there. But that will crank us up a little bit. We'll be more on edge because of that. I told the guys, I'm sorry about that, fellas. We'll have to back it up. We have to play well because I said that.

Q. We were talking to Matt Painter earlier today, when I mentioned the potential of Edey trying to guard Ansley, he pretty much said that's not the way they plan to do it. Does that surprise you at all or watching tape you see they kind of move him off to another guy?

COACH ANDERSON: Yeah, they're very smart about how they do things. They're very well-coached. To get open shots will be hard to do. They'll do a great job of figuring out a way of guarding that, obviously.

They're going to come after us. They're the Big Ten champions. Won the Big Ten by four games, one of the best teams in the country. They'll come after us.

We have to withstand that, we have to take some punches and keep punching and keep fighting. And it will be interesting to see how they guard us. We spent -- I'm not sure how we're going to guard them. A lot of discussions, we'll do the best. We hope we can cause some mismatch problems for them as well. But we'll spend time today and tomorrow being able to guard us as well.

But, listen, they're the big dogs in this fight. They're the Big Ten champions. They'll come after us. We have to be feisty, gritty, tough, which we have been.

Our goal is to hang around. A game like this, you want to hang around, play as well as you can, be in the fight as long as you can. Hopefully you get to a point where it's a four-minute game, six-minute game, eight-minute game, and you have a chance.

Obviously they're a big favorite, they're the 1 season for a reason. We know that. But our guys, we'll compete.

Q. Guys played so well last night against a team that really had made its mark in that particular tournament. What kind of intangibles -- I don't want to say momentum -- but what kind of intangible qualities does that transfer as far as come in here with some momentum?

COACH ANDERSON: That's a great question. Great point. I really believe it. Having a chance to play, for us coming from our background, to play last night in that arena, I told the guys a minute ago look around, look around, look at this crowd. The fans that were there, the place was packed.

Credit to Dayton for doing an unbelievable job with that First Four. Incredible crowd support. Awesome place to play. I enjoyed it a lot. I thought it was great.

Just for us to experience that and play in that environment and play well, not be overwhelmed and play well, has to give us some confidence going into tomorrow night where it's going to be maybe a little bit bigger but not a whole lot different.

It's funny, one of my guys says, hey, guys, look around. They hadn't really looked around until I said look at the crowd. They're so focused on the game. People sometimes focus too much on that kind of stuff. Our guys enjoy the bands. They enjoyed the Texas Southern band. They talked a lot.

They didn't mention the crowd so much; they're focused on the game. I do think sometimes in a tournament when you can play a game, like you look at tournaments like the conference tournaments, the team that gets a bye sometimes doesn't play as well the next round because they're not -- you're getting yourself going. It might help us a little bit to play the game.

We're also probably a little bit tired, a little worn down. Last night, takes a lot out of you. But I think there's an advantage to already have been in that situation.

Q. Do you think it gives them a higher degree of belief --


Q. -- that they can accomplish more on the big stage?

COACH ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Without a doubt. Has to. NCAA Tournament win. They're hard to come by. Not easy to win NCAA Tournament.

(Indiscernible) and Grant have won in the NCAA tournament. I've won in the NCAA Tournament. Everyone is gold. It's huge. Once you win one, it helps you believe you can win the next one, obviously.

There's definitely a belief there. And the good thing for us is we're playing a team they all know about. We all know how good Purdue is. I don't have to build Purdue up. Part of the thing, in the locker room I don't have to say Purdue is pretty good. They know how good Purdue is. We know what they are.

So there's none of that going on at all. I've got to build us up a little bit: there's a chance. If we play well, really well, we can compete. And that's the goal tomorrow night.

Q. I gotta ask you a procedural question. You play Thursday nights and then Saturday afternoons or Saturday nights in the NEC all season long. As you handle playing that first game, and now playing the second game, is it totally business as usual because of the hype, the spotlight, the emotions of winning that game last night? Have you had to draw on your past tournament experiences to maybe tweak things on how you handle this, or is it kind of just like a regular week in the NEC?

COACH ANDERSON: I think for us we have a procedure we do after every game. We do a couple things that are fun. We do a chart for who got the most hustle points. They get what we call the belt. It's a championship belt like a wrestling belt. The guy who gets the most rebounds, hustle points. We awarded that this morning to Joe Munden, got the hustle award last night.

We always watched tape the last game. We call them winning plays, losing plays. Ten plays of good things we did, ten bad things we did. Then we move on to the next game. This morning we did the same exact thing. We went through hustle points, watched winning/losing plays. Fellows, let's get ready for Purdue. Like you would the conference season. We're not trying to change anything we're doing at all.

We're trying to keep the routine. That's the advantage of having a full season under your belt. We've kind of been in a lot of different situations. The turnaround, I don't think, will be too drastic for us at all. But we're trying to stick to our routine, one day at a time, do what we do, enjoy it.

And our guys are enjoying it. I was watching our coaches, this is a great thing. Being in the NCAA Tournament is an awesome experience for everybody involved. And they do such a great job making it special for the players and coaches and families and our administration.

So we're enjoying it all the way through, but there's the business aspect, let's get ready for a game tomorrow night. We will. We have a philosophy we use 22-2. We break the day down, two hours a day, basketball is the most important thing. We focus on basketball and we focus on preparation and what we're doing.

For 22 hours a day, basketball shouldn't be the most important thing. Enjoy being around your friends, enjoy doing what you do. Enjoy spending time with your families, obviously schoolwork. We're on spring break which is nice. Schoolwork is important.

Those 22 hours shouldn't all be about basketball. When we walk into the gym those two hours are all about basketball. For coaches, it's not 22-2; the hours would be more skewed towards I'm not sure what it is. Right now it's about 18-6. Does that get to 24? 18 hours. We're going crazy.

But I want the players, when they're in the gym, let's worry about basketball. Away spend time, enjoy each other's company, what a great experience it is, and I think we're definitely sticking to that idea.

Q. The Saint Francis/Pennsylvania game which clinched the bid to The Dance, you played as well as you could. You were extremely proud and pleased with that game and then, of course, last night probably took it even a notch up. How much more upside is there? Are you guys peaking right now? Is this about the top level you think you guys can play?

COACH ANDERSON: We've got to crank it up a notch tomorrow night. The best game we can play -- I think it's still out there for us -- but it will have to be tomorrow night. Quite frankly, we've got to play as well as we can tomorrow night.

And I do think it's out there for us. I think we've gotten better. I think we played really well last month, we played very well. And we've gelled more. We've been more cohesive.

Our defense, which has not been a strong point for us all season long, has gotten better. So, yeah, I think there's a level we can get to that's higher. We have to get to it tomorrow night without, listen, nothing's perfect. We're not trying for perfection here. We've got to play well. We've got to play hard. And the part for us is the mental part, we've got to be mentally locked in.

I thought last night mentally we were really locked into how we had to play, how we had to guard them. And now you're playing a team that's even better. Purdue is one of the best offensive teams in the country. They're fourth or fifth in efficiency. Great offensively.

We have to give everything we can defensively. Even then they're going to score. We have to be able to change the tempo, up tempo of the game a little bit, make them uncomfortable and make some shots. We've got to score some points. We cannot win this game if we don't make -- we shot the ball well last night. We need to shoot the ball well again probably tomorrow night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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